The EUROPP team take a look at the week in Brussels blogging
The EU centre and the crisis
The free movement of European citizens has now become a key issue in the 2014 European Parliament elections, writes Justin Priestley at Policy Network. He suggests that in some EU countries, particularly the UK, anti-EU groups have effectively managed to link Euroscepticism with immigration, keeping both in the political limelight.
Elsewhere, Natasha Marie Levanti argues at European Public Affairs that EU citizens should have equal voting rights regardless of where they live – either within another EU country or abroad. She explains how campaigns in support of greater voting rights have been gaining momentum, including through a recent European Citizens’ Initiative.
Meanwhile, Open Europe have been hosting a conference this week on EU reform, which featured a key speech by UK Chancellor George Osborne. Earlier in the week, Lord Leach of Fairford, Chairman of Open Europe, outlined the motivation for the conference and the importance of EU reform, arguing for a clear constitutional settlement on the basis of European integration and its prospects going forward.
Writing in Open Democracy, Patrice de Beer considers how “European” elections to the European Parliament really are. Taking France as an example, he presents data showing that most French voters say they will cast their ballots in May in protest against mainstream political parties, rather than in support of Europe or based on EU issues. The article also includes descriptions of the spectrum of parties contending the European Parliament elections in France.
Halil Gurhanli, writing in Open Democracy, claims that Turkey is facing a rule of law crisis. He notes that government corruption is rife and judicial impartiality is threatened, in addition to a worsening civil rights situation. The fear, he suggests, is of Turkey returning once again to military rule.
The Netherlands stands out as a developed country committed to reforming its excessive welfare spending, says Michael Boskin at Project Syndicate. Its efforts on labour market reform and increasing competitiveness should be followed, according to him, as they are some of the only achievable ways to deal with budget imbalances
Elsewhere, Xavier Casals argues at Agenda pública that Spain is entering a period of political transition in which the two dominant parties – the People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) – will be challenged by a number of new populist parties. He writes that the new parties which will come to make inroads at the national level will be based largely on anti-establishment perspectives and identity politics.
The European neighbourhood
The EU has a role to play in conflict and post-conflict situations, asserts Richard Gowan at the European Council on Foreign Relations blog. This includes the Central African Republic, which is currently beset by mass violence. He writes that in a number of countries, EU missions have taken on the important role of protecting and developing airports.
Judy Dempsey at Strategic Europe calls for the European Union to engage more directly with Georgia and Moldova, instead of simply waiting for them to sign trade and association agreements at the end of 2014. She contends that both countries need support in the interim to counter the force of Russia, which opposes any steps taken by these countries to move closer to Europe, and which has significant sway over them as a result of their political weakness and economic dependence.
At the e-International Relations blog, Anja Opitz presents an overview of articles on the development of European security and defence policy written over the past few months. They consider the effectiveness of EU foreign policy in the context of globalisation, the changing dynamics of international security, and shifts in global power.
Chocolate, cheese, mineral water, wine, fish, onions. These are some of the food and drink exports from the EU and neighbouring European states banned at one point or another by Russia, reports Annabelle Chapman at Open Democracy Russia. While ostensibly implemented for health reasons, it has been claimed that the bans are politically motivated – many of which have posed real challenges to the exporting countries affected. Despite calls from the Russian food standards agency for Russians to eat a ‘patriotic diet’, the appeal of foreign delights appears unabated.
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.
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